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teaching professional people english

Thinking about the English Language

                   Let’s face it – English is a crazy language.

There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren’t invented in England or French fries in France.

Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren’t sweet, are meat.

We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

And why is it that writers write but fingers don’t fing, grocers don’t groce and hammers don’t ham?

If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn’t the plural of booth, beeth? One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese? One index, 2 indices?

Doesn’t it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend? If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?

If teachers taught, why didn’t preachers praught?

If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?

Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital?

Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell?

How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites? You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which, an alarm goes off by going on.

English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race, which, of course, is not a race at all. That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.

PS. – Why doesn’t ‘Buick’ rhyme with ‘quick’ ?

Many thanks to my friend S who emailed this.  I shall use it with my Polish student.

Click here for an article considering just this subject..

If you enjoyed this post see similar posts on http://www.shallwemovetofrance.wordpress.com

                                                                       http://www.shallwemovetofrance.blogspot.com

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About ijkblogger

Clergy wife for 30 years, mother of 4, grandmother of 5. Newly addicted to blogging. I suppose I always wanted to write but didn't know how to get started. We're all supposed to have a book inside us but I'm unlikely to be the next JKRowling.

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This entry was posted on 31/03/2012 by in Advanced learners, Grammar, musings and tagged , , , , .